Feb. 27th, 2017

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Maisonneuve Monument, at night


The Maisonneuve Monument, erected in honour of Montréal's founder Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, stands squarely at the heart of the Place d'Armes.
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Green Lawn, Kew Gardens Tennis Club


Just metres from the cold waters of Lake Ontario, the fields of the Kew Gardens Tennis Club were greening already on the 24th of February.
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  • blogTO shares media exploring how Toronto was marketed internationally in the 1980s. This decade apparently saw less concentration on landmarks and more on cultural activities.

  • The Map Room Blog links to a National Geographic collection of the childhood maps of cartographers.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that the loosening of China's one-child policy has not resulted in much change.

  • Justin Petrone wonders if Estonians are weird.

  • Steve Munro reports on the many, many problematic things coming out of Metrolinx, including fare-by-distance and the ongoing PRESTO disasters.

  • Supernova Condensate shares a thought-provoking set of statues on global warming, Follow the Leaders.

  • Torontoist's Kieran Delamont notes the astonishing thoughtlessness of new fashion brand Homeless Toronto.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Belarus in a state of political ferment that might--might--be pre-revolutionary, and wonders if disbanding Russia's ethnic republics could be profoundly destabilizing.

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Kady O'Malley at MacLean's talks about her experience of the Manning Conference, an assembly of people on the Canadian right that did not seem overly invested in American-style populism.

This year, however, we may want to take a slightly more cautious approach in drawing sweeping conclusions based on what unfolded over the course of the now-concluded confab – or, at least, from the official programme.

While the speakers’ list and topics seemed to have been designed specifically to appeal to the Canadian wing of the alt-right movement that helped to sweep Donald Trump into the White House – there was even a keynote speech on whether “Trumpism” could be brought to Canada – there was scant evidence of a simmering populist rage amongst attendees. (Or, at least, any more of one than usual.)

There were, of course, exceptions: the two young men who so proudly showed off their matching Make America Great Again hats as they made the rounds in the atrium and posed for the TV cameras, for instance, or an overheard mention to “social justice warriors” in casual conversation.

They also had no trouble filling the main hall with a few hundred attendees already primed to gasp in collective horror during the discussion on “leading the response to Islamic extremism” or enthusiastically jeer at the idea of “trigger warnings” at the mini-symposium on campus censorship.

But after spending a few hours on the floor, it became clear that a sizeable number of attendees were primarily interested in the Conservative leadership debate, although they also appreciated the opportunity to socialize with like-minded souls from across the country.
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Marie-Danielle Smith's Canadian Press report carried in the National Post is subtly alarming. That some people who claim about "religious freedom" are not concerned with that concept in general so much as with maximizing their favourite religion's standing is sad.

Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom is warning conservatives about the pitfalls of “Canadian values” talk.

At the annual Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa Saturday, Andrew Bennett said “values” language — like that cropping up in the Conservative party leadership race — must be debunked.

“When people bandy about an expression like ‘Canadian values,’ they will ascribe all kinds of different things to that, things that can be contested,” he said.

Elaborating on that idea in an interview, Bennett told the National Post Canadians should focus on universal concepts: rule of law, human rights and freedoms. “When you get into the ‘values’ language, it’s fraught with a lot of pitfalls,” he said, and specific “values” beyond those all Canadians can accept shouldn’t be prescribed.

Bennett said his views aren’t political and he hasn’t followed the Conservative leadership race closely, but the “values” debate has permeated the contest.

Kellie Leitch’s opponents have largely rejected her rhetoric around immigration interviews, and the idea all immigrants should be tested for “Canadian values,” with some accusing her of sowing division and inciting hatred.
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As a long-time NDP voter, I think that Charlie Angus' candidacy for the NDP leadership, reported here by NOW Toronto's Kevin Ritchie, is a very good thing for the party, or at least that it can be.

Punk rock-style swag was on display at the bar as supporters packed the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen West. After short sets by musicians including Jason Collett, Ron Hawkins and rapper Mohammed Ali, Charlie Angus, the 54-year-old MP for Timmins-James Bay, took the stage to Patti Smith’s People Have The Power to make it official. Angus became the second candidate to officially join the NDP leadership race Sunday.

Angus did not spell out any specific policy positions, but emphasized job security, the high cost of post-secondary education and Indigenous issues in a 15-minute speech that echoed the appeals to working-class voters of former Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders.

“We cannot be torn apart my the evil, false, corrosive politics of division,” Angus said. “The new working class is white collar and blue collar.”

Explaining that he spent $160 on a new suit for the occasion, Angus added: “I spent the money because we’re going to bring a little bit of class to politics.”

Angus chose the Horseshoe to launch his campaign, the club at which he saw his first punk show – the Last Pogo ­­– as a teenager in the early 70s. He formed his own band after that, touring and recording seven albums over a 26-year career as the singer of alt-folk band the Grievous Angels, an experience, he says, that sharpened his interest in politics and social change.
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NOW Toronto's Susan G. Cole notes how independent bookstores in Toronto are upset by a grant of money by the Toronto municipal government to a literary festival.

A grant from the Toronto Arts Council to the International Festival of Authors, bestowed last fall, has outraged programmers for the city’s independent bookstores.

“The decision to fund IFOA feels like a nail in the coffin for indie bookstores and shows the Arts Council’s lack of concern for the financial health of independent booksellers,” says Another Story event organizer Anjula Gogia, representing other indie stores and festivals as well, including Pages Unbound and Glad Day Books.

The IFOA’s new program called Toronto Lit Up has received close to $300,000 over three years and is designed to assist publishers in launching new books by Toronto authors.

IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor explains that a committee – comprised of himself, author Dionne Brand, Quill and Quire’s Allison Jones and Hazel Millar, representing the Literary Press Group – has been formed to allocate the monies and is accepting applications from publishers and authors seeking funds for launches.

The problem, according to Gogia, the former programmer for the now shuttered Toronto Women’s Bookstore, is that indie stores could very well be squeezed out of the launch scene that’s so crucial to their businesses. Books sold at launches represent their bread and butter.
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Michelle Da Silva's brief article in NOW Toronto notes that Queen Street West in Toronto will finally get some free public WiFi--indeed, already has it. Now for the rest of Toronto to follow suit!

Accessing free WiFi in Toronto can often mean ducking into a McDonalds, Starbucks or other fastfood chains. In “world class” cities, such as Tel Aviv, New York City, Seoul, Barcelona, Bangalore and Osaka, free Internet access is readily available everywhere.

The neighbourhood of West Queen West is hoping to change that. Starting February 23, anyone walking along Queen West between Niagara and Markham streets will be able to access free WiFi by logging onto FREE WQW WI-FI.

The service is being offered by the West Queen West BIA and Besify, a Markham-based Internet firm. This stretch of Queen West marks the first phase of a project. Rob Sysak, executive director of the WQW BIA, says that phase two of the project, which includes Queen West between Gladstone and Dovercourt, will launch in March.
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Natalia Manzocco writes for NOW Toronto about how Bloor Street West is going to soon host a First Nations restaurant.

When Tacos el Asador vacated their perpetually-packed corner unit on Bloor for roomier digs across the street earlier this year, it turns out they were making space for a cuisine that's hugely underrepresented in Toronto: First Nations eats. The new tenant at 607 Bloor West is NishDish, a cafe focused on Anishinaabe recipes, as well as products from First Nations and Metis producers.

At the helm of the new cafe is Anishinaabe chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who's been catering under the NishDish banner for some time, offering dishes like wild duck and hominy corn soups, venison stew, buffalo chili, baked bannock and wild rice. Ringuette promises the "marketeria" will include "Indigenous sourced coffee, quick meals, or check out a vast selection of goods and food products sourced from First Nations, Inuit and Metis people."
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CBC News' Kate McGillivray wrote about the risk of high rents driving young pepe out of Toronto.

Young people across the income spectrum who would like to build lives in Toronto are choosing to leave rather than pay the city's ever-increasing rents.

For 27-year-old Arthur Gallant, that's meant moving from Etobicoke, to Burlington, to Hamilton in search of an affordable apartment for himself and his mother.

"You can only move so far west until you hit water and there's nowhere left to live," he said in an interview with CBC Toronto.

Gallant is one of hundreds of people who reached out to CBC Toronto as part of our No Fixed Address series, which explores the city's rental housing market.

Among the stories that have poured in, many are from native Torontonians like him, who would like to live in Toronto but find that apartments cost more than they are willing or able to pay.

"It's a code-red, sirens-blaring kind of issue because we need to recognize the degree to which the standard of living is in free fall for younger demographics," said Paul Kershaw, a University of British Columbia professor and the founder of Generation Squeeze, a campaign that raises awareness about the economic pressure faced by younger Canadians.

"Housing prices are squeezing younger people out."
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The strength of discount retailers like Giant Tiger and Dollarama, as described by the CBC's Dianne Buckner, reflects underlying weaknesses in the Canadian economy including falling wages.

Whenever Anna Maria Afable travels from British Columbia to visit her friends in Ontario, she makes a point to stop in at a Giant Tiger store.

"We don't have it in B.C.," says Afable, as she browses through the fashion section at a location in Barrie, Ont, the newest of the discount chain's 200 stores across the country. "When we see a Giant Tiger, we drop by and see the price. They have very good prices, very low, affordable for middle-class people."

Ian Ferguson lives in Barrie and is a Giant Tiger regular. "The prices are awesome," he enthuses.

Shoppers like Afable and Ferguson are driving a boom in discount retail. Giant Tiger — better known in rural and suburban Canada than it is in big cities — will add 10 to 15 stores this year, with more to come. Meanwhile, Costco is midway through a seven-store expansion. And the biggest of them all, Dollarama, is adding 60 to 70 new locations this year to its 1,000-store national network.

"At Christmastime you're going to put gold balls on your Christmas tree. Does it matter if they're Ralph Lauren, or the ones you get from Dollarama?" asks Marvin Ryder, a professor of business at Hamilton's McMaster University. "They both look the same."
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In this weekend's Historicist feature, David Wencer describes for Torontoist an early protest in Toronto against Nazi anti-Semitism and fascism.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 11, 1933, people began gathering in the park at Wellington and Bathurst Streets. Most of the men and women in attendance were labourers, and many were there to represent Toronto’s predominantly Jewish garment industry unions. Some were there to represent various left-wing Toronto political organizations, which were ideologically opposed to Adolf Hitler’s fascist policies and treatment of German workers. Others were motivated to protest by local newspaper reports of pogroms in Hitler’s Germany. Carrying signs and banners reflecting a variety of interests and causes, the crowd paraded up Spadina to Dundas, then east to University Avenue, and finally up University to Queen’s Park, where thousands of others joined. The protest brought together Torontonians of many affiliations, united in their determined opposition to “Hitlerism” and the events unfolding in Germany.

In the early months of 1933, the Toronto press reported regularly on the developments which were taking place in Germany following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. These articles ran not just in the Yiddish-language Der Yiddisher Zhurnal and in radical leftist newspapers, such as Young Worker, but also in the four mainstream Toronto dailies. They described the increasingly restrictive conditions in Germany, and included reports of concentration camps and attacks on Jews in the streets. In their book Riot at Christie Pits, Cyril H. Levitt and William Shaffir write that Toronto’s newspapers “carried horrifying front-page reports of the atrocities against Jews during the first months of Hitler’s rule…In fact, because of the censorship of the media by the Hitler regime, Torontonians probably knew more about what was occurring to Jews in Germany during those fateful months than did most Berliners.”


A Jewish market on Kensington Avenue, January 14, 1932. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 26172.
A Jewish market on Kensington Avenue, January 14, 1932. City of Toronto Archives, fonds 1266, item 26172.

April of 1933 saw the formation of a new Toronto group, the League for the Defence of Jewish Rights (not to be confused with today’s Jewish Defence League), whose leaders included Rabbi Samuel Sachs and Shmuel Meir Shapiro, editor of Der Yiddisher Zhurnal. The League soon emerged as Toronto’s leading Jewish protest group, and co-organized a massive meeting at Massey Hall on April 2. This meeting, which drew the support of numerous non-Jewish politicians and organizations, included the development of a strategy for countering local antisemitic sentiment, and the organization of a local boycott of German goods. The League was also instrumental in the formation of a new incarnation of a national-level Jewish organization, the Canadian Jewish Congress.

In 1933, Toronto’s Jewish population numbered around 46,000, and was heavily concentrated downtown, near the city’s many clothing factories. In her 1992 book Sweatshop Strife: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Jewish Labour Movement of Toronto 1900–1939, Ruth A. Frager writes that, by 1931, approximately one-third of Toronto’s gainfully employed Jewish population worked in the needle trades, and that “Jews constituted roughly 46 per cent of the people employed in this sector in this city.”

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